21 Century Lynching: Police Brutality Against Minorities and The Need For Change

Michael Brown. Eric Gardner. Oscar Grant. These are just three of the countless names of young men and women who have lost their lives to police brutality and unarmed shootings on civilians in America. In a position where they are sworn to protect and serve the people of their communities, too often has innocent blood been shed and misunderstandings turned into deaths by trigger. More scaring, is the race of the victims of police brutality, which too often is skin of a darker tone. With the numbers rapidly growing, there must be sufficient research and time dedicated to making sure that this deadly trend ends with less deaths by the hands of police, but more importantly, that justice is finally served for of the lives lost at the hands of police brutality.

Police and the abusing of power have been an issue most likely since the beginning of the implementation of protective bodies in communities worldwide. But when one body enforces the laws with another having to blindly abide and follow, contempt for those in power is sure to grow. In a study on the effects, history, and impending increase of police brutality on minorities, Cassandra Chaney & Ray V. Robertson found that contempt for police officers varies in levels which then guide one’s way of thinking when it comes to acts of police brutality (Cheney, 2013, p. 487). Below is a chart from the report that outlines the above-mentioned levels:

Table 2

But where does this contempt come from? The majority of people believe that it arises from the history of police brutality in our nation. In the study conducted by Cheney and Robertson, the authors make note of the number of violent interactions with civilians that occurred with law enforcement between the time period of April 2009 and June 2010. This information is displayed below (Cheney, 2013, p. 486):

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 4.06.44 PM

In the same realm of data, a US Today article showed graphs depicting the gender and racial makeup of victims of police shooting over a second year period. The numbers are as listed below (Hoyer, 2014, p. 5):
Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 4.58.17 PM

Reviewing all of this information, one begins to wonder how our society has gotten to this barbaric state. As noted in a report by Sinisa Malesevic (2013) the author notes, “no human being lightly tolerates unfair and non-reciprocal relationships”, meaning simply that our basic nature doesn’t not sit well when we feel that justice has not been served or taken lightly against another. This leads cause as to why we as a society take issues when we see acts of police brutality or any brutality for that matter. Our hearts as human nature won’t allow us to digest that content with ease (p. 286). But also with human nature comes our need to be protected, and this is where the conflict enters. Because the police force was initially design to protect us, we find trouble seeing or believing that they would do citizens harm or wrong. So society becomes divides, as people take sides but for some there may not be a clear definition of right and wrong (p. 284-285).

Reviewing all of this information, one begins to wonder how our society has gotten to this barbaric state. As noted in a report by Sinisa Malesevic (2013) the author notes, “no human being lightly tolerates unfair and non-reciprocal relationships”, meaning simply that our basic nature doesn’t not sit well when we feel that justice has not been served or taken lightly against another. This leads cause as to why we as a society take issues when we see acts of police brutality or any brutality for that matter. Our hearts as human nature won’t allow us to digest that content with ease (p. 286). But also with human nature comes our need to be protected, and this is where the conflict enters. Because the police force was initially design to protect us, we find trouble seeing or believing that they would do citizens harm or wrong. So society becomes divides, as people take sides but for some there may not be a clear definition of right and wrong. One other major issue is that we as a society have added a “spectacle of death” that allows us to become enraged but eventually accept police brutality because we see it so frequently (Taylor, 2013, p. 189).

So how do we find solutions to this ever growing issue? There are several ways in which we can combat this deadly trend. One way is in taking the sensation out of death by not highlighting the events around it. The second is holding law enforcement accountable for their actions and wrongdoings against the larger community. The third is creating a process that allows us to document these events so that we have the memories and we can show proof of the acts as they happen. This third area is where I hope that my app can assist.

References

Chaney, C., & Robertson, R. (2013). Racism and Police Brutality in America. Journal Of African American Studies, 17(4), 480-505. doi:10.1007/s12111-013-9246-5

Hoyer, K., & Heath, B. (2014). Local police involved in 400 killings per year. Retrieved February 15, 2015, from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/08/14/police-killings-data/14060357/

Malesevic, S. (2013). Forms of brutality: Towards a historical sociology of violence. European Journal of Social Theory

Taylor, J. (2013), “We Are All Oscar Grant”: Police Brutality, Death, and the Work of Mourning. Transforming Anthropology, 21: 187–197. doi: 10.1111/traa.12010

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s